Voices from the Invaders

Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

"I left New Berne on Friday morning, 3d instant, with the advance of cavalry going out under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [George W.] Lewis, taking with me 20 men as pioneers from the First North Carolina Colored Regiment. These men I found more efficient than any colored men I have taken out on former expeditions."
  Capt. H. W. Wilson, U.S. Army, Civil Engineer, 18th Army Corps, New Bern, N.C., July 9, 1863

"I have the honor to inclose a list of 53 soldiers of the U.S. Government who are supposed to have fallen into your hands on your late hasty retreat from before New Berne. They are loyal and true North Carolinians and duly enlisted in the Second North Carolina Infantry [Union]. I ask for them the same treatment in all respects as you will mete out to other prisoners of war."
  Maj. Gen. John J. Peck, U.S. Army, District of North Carolina, New Bern, to Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, Department of North Carolina (Confederate), February 13, 1864.

"I herewith return you the names of those who have been tried and convicted by court-martial for desertion from the Confederate service and taken with arms in hand, 'duly enlisted in the Second North Carolina Infantry, U. S. Army.' They have been duly executed according to law and the custom of war."
  Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, Department of North Carolina (Confederate), to Maj. Gen. John J. Peck, Februaruy 17, 1864.

"In your reply of the 17th you inclosed a list of 22 who have been executed at Kinston, and express the dertermination to punish the balance if proof is found of their desertion from your service. These men, in combination with more than half the population of the State, were ever loyal to the United States and opposed secession until put down by arbitrary power. A merciless conscription drove them into the service, and for a time compelled the suspense of their real sentiments but was powerless to destroy their love of the Federal Union. With tens of thousands they seized the first opportunity to rush within my lines and resume their former allegiance . . . . [I]n view of their unswerving and unflagging loyalty I cannot doubt that the [U.S.] Government will take immediate steps to redress these outrages upon humanity and to correct such gross violations of usages of civilized warfare. In any event my duty has been performed, and the blood of these unfortunates will rest upon you and your associates."
  Maj. Gen. John J. Peck, U.S. Army, District of North Carolina, New Bern, to Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, February 27, 1864.

"[T]he only troops left for the defense of this place [New Bern, N.C.] exclusive of the troops on the outposts and the garrisoning of the different forts, are five companies of the [158th] New York Volunteers, five companies of the First U.S. Colored Troops, and 250 men of Colonel [Gustavus A.] Scrogg's regiment of colored troops [25th USCT, passing through], and the aggregate is ony 3,860, or about one-third the number actually necessary to man the works and the line of intrenchments . . . . This place is considered the important of any place on the sounds of North Carolina, and a moderately respectable force should remain here to protect it. The force now here can hardly be called sufficient, and I certainly could not advise any further depletion here. Until the rebel ram at Plymouth [CSS Albemarle] is put hors de service [out of service] all the troops that we might place on steamers for the relief of that place will be, in my opinion, useless."
  Brig. Gen. Innis N. Palmer, U.S. Army, commanding District of North Carolina, on the defense of New Bern, N.C., April 20, 1864

"In view of the unprecedented amounf of sickness in the Second Massachusetts Artillery it is ordered that for the present the commanding officer of the First North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery send each day . . . a suffiecient number of men from his command to perform all the day duty at Forst Totten, Dutton, and Stevenson . . . . The commanding officer of the Second Massachusetts Artillery will see that during the time the First North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery are doing day duty in the forts under his command every effort is made to instruct them in heavy artillery drill."
  J. A. Judson, U.S. Army, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters, District of North Carolina, Special Orders No. 137, by command of Brig. Gen. William Harlan, New Bern, N.C., September 11, 1864

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In Their Own Words ...

Memoirs of William T. Sherman